Eville & Jones, which provides inspection services for the meat industry in England and Wales, created this initiative, claiming the industry was moving towards a shortfall in suitably qualified staff in the future. The initiative is based on training and the deployment of Meat Hygiene Inspectors to take over some of their previous responsibilities that are now delivered by veterinarians.
Having gained Food Standards Agency approval, Eville & Jones has designed a new training programme, almost complete and ready for delivery.
The company will fully fund the training element of the programme. Training and assessment is not time-constrained, but is expected to take nine to 12 months and include red meat and poultry elements.
On completion of the course, candidates will be guaranteed a full-time, permanent post within the Eville & Jones team.
A spokesman for the business said: “The recruitment process has just commenced and we are looking for suitable candidates who have some meat industry or livestock production experience and are looking for a challenge.”
Eville & Jones said that this need had developed over a lengthy period.
“The role of operatives in delivering meat inspections changed significantly, with the requirements for veterinary involvement increasing and the job title of Authorised Meat Inspectors (AMIs) changed to Official Auxiliary, although they are now referred to as Meat Hygiene Inspectors (MHIs).
“The recruitment process has just commenced and we are looking for suitable candidates who have some meat industry or livestock production experience and are looking for a challenge.”
“The initial recruitment process for veterinarians within the UK did not attract the numbers required to meet demand. This reflects the difference in the basic training of veterinarians overseas, where one of the core elements of their courses focuses specifically on the area of food hygiene and meat inspection.
“As a result, the food hygiene enforcement role within the profession provides an attractive career prospect for newly qualified personnel. So the recruitment process focused increasingly on staff from overseas. Recruits from this source now form the backbone of the service.
“However, over recent times, many of these veterinarians have become unsettled about their future in the UK. This mainly driven by the Brexit process, and is now impacting on the already relatively high staff turnover rate. Over the same period, recruitment of new staff is becoming increasingly difficult.”
This was a challenging situation as future staffing levels were becoming more difficult to meet, he said. The situation was aggravated because the supply of MHIs and, in particular, those training for this qualification had all but disappeared. This reflected the significant structural changes within the UK meat industry that had occurred over the past 30 years or so.
“This change is demonstrated in where consumers purchase their meat, the increase in out-of-home eating and the changes in the retail and distribution infrastructure resulting in the reduction of available people who are interested in training for this role.”